Charity Law

Country Reports: South Asia

The International Journal
of Not-for-Profit Law

Volume 3, Issue 1, September 2000


The Need for Innovation, Skill and Persistence

Report On The Two Days’ Workshop On Fund Raising
Jointly Organised By CAP And SOSVA

“India’s priority should be towards creating more wealth. Unless more wealth is generated, there will continue to be a slump in resource distribution for welfare and development,” said noted industrialist, Darius M. Forbes, at the inauguration of the two days’ workshop on Fund Raising, jointly organised by the Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy and Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies on 17th and 18th August 2000. There were 45 participants representing a wide range of voluntary organisations in Bombay and Poona.

Mr. Forbes stressed the need for government to create an “enabling environment for the country to create wealth”. He also expressed disappointment over the country’s increasing dependence on “foreign funds”. “It is the path of least resistance,” he felt.

He felt ‘philanthropy’ covered a wider human interest than just working for or among the “poor and the needy”. He explained that when he met the trustees of the Mitsubishi Foundation in Japan some years ago, he asked them what they were doing with their millions in wealth. He was informed that they were funding research to develop “fuel efficient and environmentally friendly automobile engines”. Mr. Forbes felt, “Here is a classic case of prudent use of wealth, where all (rich and poor) can benefit. After all, “environment” is an issue that affects all classes and groups of people globally.

Giving an example of “Corporate Social Responsibility”, he said, “When my company purchased land from the farmers in Poona, we realised that they would be “cash rich” for only a short period of time. So we decided to create employment opportunities for them through proper training, especially for their children. We also started a hospital and began to undertake several community development programmes. We were not doing anyone a favour. We were simply giving back to society what we gained from them.”

Coming to the topic of fund raising, he said, “India has a ‘middle class’ population of 300 million. Have we ever thought of tapping this resource in a systematic way?”

Participants later had an opportunity to interact with Mr. Saraf, managing trustee of the Bombay Community Public Trust (BCPT). In its eight years of operation, the Trust has extended financial support aggregating Rs.2.29 crores to 78 NGOs involved in a wide range of welfare and developmental work. Incidentally, BCPT is an institution launched by the Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy.

Mr. Saraf indicated that an important source of funds is income derived by way of interest and dividends through judicious investment of funds. He also felt it was necessary for NGOs to think in terms of building their “corpus fund”. He felt “corpus funds” enhance sustainability. However, he recognised the constraint that funding organisations usually prefer to give for “programmes” and “projects” and seldom for corpus. He felt there was a need to “educate donors” on the need for contributing, at least partly, towards “corpus”.

Referring to the qualities of a good fund raiser, Noshir Dadrawala, executive secretary, Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy, said, “Belief in the cause (for which funds are being raised) is very important. In addition, the fund raiser should be “innovative”, an “effective communicator” and “persistent”. “Belief in the cause (for which funds are being raised) is very important. In addition, the fund raiser should be “innovative”, an “effective communicator” and “persistent”
Noshir Dadrawala

Agreeing with Mr. Forbes, he said that in the USA the largest contribution towards philanthropy does not come from corporations or the big foundations but “individuals”. Dadrawala felt, “Even in India, the “individual” probably is or can be made one of the largest contributors, provided NGOs work strategically and in a spirit of complete transparency and accountability.”

He also felt companies would respond better if NGOs could appeal to their “bottom line”. “Don’t approach corporations with a begging bowl. Go to them with a business proposal to forge a partnership.” He said, “Make your donor a partner in your cause and not one who simply writes out a cheque.”

Speaking on proposal writing he said, “Let your appeal be realistic. You cannot solve all the problems – be specific about target groups and set realistic goals.”

Addressing the issue of effective communication in fund raising, Anthony Samy, CEO, ALERT-India, emphasised the need for every NGO to present the problem it professes to address in “simple language, without exaggeration and with conviction.” Engaging the participants in an interactive dialogue, Samy very successfully helped participants discover their own strengths and weaknesses in communication.

Mrs. Parinita Kanitkar, senior manager, SOSVA, identified government (central and state), foreign funding agencies, banks, trusts (public, family and religious), public and private sector companies as some of the main sources of funding. She also felt the “individuals”, especially the non-resident Indians (NRIs) are a potentially untapped source. The spirit of volunteerism also needs to be galvanised and properly channelled, she felt.

Kanitkar also shared with participants SOSVA’s experience with the sale of greeting cards, direct mail and other techniques.

Mrs. Veera Rao, director – fund raising, ALERT-India, focused on the topic of “fund raising through events”. She felt “events” like “charity shows” (film premiers, ghazal nites, etc.) enhance public relations and build awareness about the work of the NGO in whose support the event is organised. “Events are a good ‘launching pad’ for NGOs,” Rao felt. She felt that the goodwill one builds up with a good event can help leverage funds from other sources with other techniques. Events also provide an opportunity for corporate involvement (through sponsorships, advertisements, etc.) and mobilising volunteers.

Mrs. Rao took participants through an exercise in identifying the inputs required for organising a successful event, including “choosing the right time (avoid examination periods, monsoons, etc.), venue, media involvement, statutory requirements/permissions, etc. She felt, “Events can be quite risky if not planned and executed properly. It is best handled by experienced professionals.”

In the panel discussion chaired by Mr. K.M. Desai, charity commissioner, Maharashtra state (Retd.), Mr.D.M. Sukthankar, chief secretary to the Governor of Maharashtra (Retd.) and chairman, Shri Sai Baba Sansthan, Shirdi, said, “Devotees on an average contribute 28 to 30 lakhs rupees per week in the Hundi (charity box) at the Shirdi Sai Baba temple.”

The temple trust has a corpus of about 90 crores and generates, on an average, an income of 35 crores rupees per annum.

Mr. Sukhtankar explained that the court has framed a scheme for managing the trust, and collection at the temple includes donations put in the hundi, donations received against official receipt, apparels and ornaments given as offering (and subsequently auctioned).

The temple wealth is mainly used for repairs, maintenance and promoting the values and teachings of Sai Baba. A cafetaria (Prasadalay) is also run in the temple complex where any one can have a good meal for a subsidised amount of just Rs.4/-. It also runs a 120-bed hospital and dharamshala in Shirdi. For all these activities, it employs a staff of 200. It also runs two secondary schools and a training centre. The trust proposes to expand the hospital’s capacity to 200 beds, introduce a blood bank and run an information technology institute. “There is also accumulation of wealth for worthwhile capital expenses,” he said.

Some years ago, Mr. Sukthankar mooted the proposal to provide a third of the temple’s surplus income to good accredited NGOs. He expressed disappointment that after some years, the scheme began to breed corruption with political interference.

Mr. V. Srinivasan (IAS), managing director, SICOM (Retd.), World Bank consultant and CEO of SOSVA, expressed the need for “accredition” of NGOs. He also briefed participants about the “Bridge Loan Fund” SOSVA proposed to initiate.

Mr. Srinivasan felt, “Innovation is the engine of development. NGOs need to constantly innovate and break new paths.”

Mr. K.M. Desai felt there was a need to organise more such seminars and workshops so that NGOs can understand and appreciate eachother’s work better and work in the spirit of harmony in an enabled network.

During the open forum, a number of interesting issues and questions were raised, including topics such as “contribution to be paid to the charity commissioner’s office”, “business income”, “corpus donations”, etc.

Overall, it was an interesting and stimulating two days’ workshop. Says Ms. Rachna Atre of Paraplegic Foundation, “It was a pleasure to attend this workshop as a participant and, I must admit, that the proceedings and information-sharing were, indeed, very thought-provoking. All the points raised were of a great help in expanding our thinking on the subject.

Adds J.R. Behlihomji, hon. treasurer of the Central Society for the Education of the Deaf, “Thank you for the very lively and informative workshop on fund raising.”

And Mr. Sadashiv Rajpurohit of Raichur (Karnataka) felt, “The topics covered were sufficient, the quality of resource persons and choice of venue were excellent.”

Rita Bandyopadhyay of The National Association for the Blind, India felt, “After attending the workshop, I really felt inspired to work more enthusiastically than before. The idea of including persons from temple trusts is unique”. Rumi Sikdar-Rathod of Sense International (India) added, “the workshop helped me in understanding and addressing issues related to fundraising. I was able to meet, interact and discuss with resource persons who are already successful in their field.”


Aga Khan Foundation Conference on Indigenous Philanthropy

The Aga Khan Foundation will host a Conference on Indigenous Philanthropy, to be held in Islamabad on October 16th-17th 2000. The purpose of the Conference is to more fully understand the state of indigenous philanthropy in Pakistan, to find ways to enhance philanthropic impulses and channel them toward credible and effective institutions, which are citizen-led and promote social development. The Conference will carry out its purpose through a series of presentations, panel discussions and working groups.

The Foundation hopes that one outcome of the Conference will be the establishment of a center for philanthropy in Pakistan. This center would develop programs to promote private charitable giving and corporate citizenship. In addition, the center would work with the government to create a more enabling environment through legal and fiscal reforms, and codes of conduct for not-for-profit organizations.

Policy and Legal Framework for NGOs in Pakistan (PDF Format)
Irfan Mufti, Pakistan NGO Forum

This paper was originally presented at the ISS/CIVICUS Seminar held at the Hague, October 2-3 2000.